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Massive explosion in Beirut

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    World Affairs
  • Published
    7th Aug, 2020
  • The catastrophic explosion at Beirut port on August 4 was caused by over 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate kept in storage for over six years.
  • In its pure form, ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is a white, crystalline chemical which is soluble in water.
  • It is the main ingredient in the manufacture of commercial explosives used in mining and construction.
  • It is a common chemical ingredient of agricultural fertilisers.
  • It is also the main component of the explosive composition known as ANFO — ammonium nitrate fuel oil.
  • In India, its usage is regulated as per The Ammonium Nitrate Rules, 2012, under The Explosives Act, 1884.
  • The rules also make storage of ammonium nitrate in large quantities in populated areas illegal in India.
  • An ammonium nitrate explosion produces massive amounts of nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen dioxide (NO?) is a red, bad-smelling gas.
  • It can irritate the respiratory system. Elevated levels of these pollutants are particularly concerning for people with respiratory conditions.

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